Harwich Sea Shanty Festival returns with songs and tall tales

Harwich Sea Shanty Festival.

Harwich Sea Shanty Festival will be filling the town with the sounds of its nautical heritage this weekend - Credit: Archant

Harwich will be celebrating its nautical heritage this weekend when the 15th Harwich International Shanty Festival takes place, and stirring sounds of music and song will be heard throughout the streets of this historic port.

This year’s theme is the Mayflower and artists will travel to the port town from the Netherlands and all over the UK to perform alongside well known and loved local talent. There will be concerts, sing-a-round sessions, workshops, illustrated talks, maritime crafts over the two days – many events are free.

Act of Mutiny will be performing at the Harwich Sea Shanty Festival this weekend

Act of Mutiny will be performing at the Harwich Sea Shanty Festival this weekend - Credit: Supplied

The main acts this year are the renowned Kimber’s Men with their superb harmonies, Shanty Jack, a shanty veteran of over 30 years and Act of Mutiny from Leiden in the Netherlands, with their versatile repertoire and lively instrumental accompaniments. 

There is also Sound Tradition singing in glorious four-part harmony, and Capstan Full Strength, a six strong vocal harmony group who have sung songs of sea, sand and work since 1998.  

As well as many of our other festival favourites, newcomers Hoy Boy from Canvey Island, Pot of Gold from Swaffham, ShantyFolk from Lavenham and Isle ‘ave a Shanty from Ely will also appear. 

Ellesmere Port Sea Shanty Festival 2014

Shanty Jack will be performing at the Harwich Sea Shanty Festival this weekend - Credit: Richard Sibley

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There is an exciting programme of events at the Redoubt Napoleonic Fort, where shanty singers will be offering a variety of performances and taking advantage once more of the wonderful acoustics in this unique venue. 

There will also be musket drills, cannon firing, skirmishes and sword displays with River Rogues Pirates and the King’s German Artillery on both the Saturday and Sunday.  

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A living history camp will be led by the Queen’s Own Buffs.

Inner State Theatre will recount Henry and Lydia’s disastrous and problematic attempts to join their fellow pilgrims on the Mayflower to sail to the New World.

There will be demonstrations of figurehead carving by Andy Peters and Ropeworks and Knotcrafts by Rachel Richards as well as face painting with Kerry Meadows. 

At Kipperland, Mike Smylie will demonstrate the art of smoking kippers with the opportunity to buy these delicious fresh smoked delicacies.  

Refreshments will be available at the Redoubt from The Curry Cart and there will be an artisan gin bar with East Coast Distillery who are sponsoring the Saturday Night concert.  

Another family attraction will be the two themed Sea Shanty Trains running between Harwich and Manningtree and back on the Saturday with entertainment from pirates, shanty singers and more.

The Felix Stowaways, Shanty Jack and Hans Weehuizen (Dutch Uncle) will be entertaining on the trains this year.

For full details of all events happening over the October 8-10 weekend visit the Harwich International Shanty Festival website

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